February 21, 2003
With the efforts and support of Maine's Congressional Delegation, the University of Maine at Fort Kent will receive $425,000 to assist in the construction of a new building to house the Acadian Archives and to preserve documents and artifacts within the facility.
The Archives funds were included in the Fiscal Year 2003 Omnibus Appropriations Act passed by the House and Senate last week and signed yesterday by President Bush. The Omnibus Bill funds operations of most of the government, with the exception of the Department of Defense and military construction funding, which were enacted last year.
UMFK's Acadian Archives appears twice in the spending bill. The first set-aside appropriation of $200,000 falls under funding for Labor, Health and Human Services. The money is designated "to equip a new facility to house the Acadian Archives which preserves, celebrates and disseminates information about the region's history".
A second appropriation of $450,000 allocated under Veteran's Affairs, Housing and Urban Development, and Independent Agencies, will be shared evenly between the Fort Kent and Presque Isle campuses of the University of Maine. At UMFK funds are designated for construction of a new building for the Acadian Archives. At UMPI, money will be used to help build a new health and physical education complex.
"I'm proud to have helped secure funding for the University of Maine at Fort Kent in its efforts to preserve Acadian culture for future generations. Historic preservation is a priority for all societies that honor their heritage and value their future," said Senator Susan Collins, whose office took the lead on securing the funding.
Collins comments are echoed by Maine's senior Senator Olympia Snowe. The two worked collaboratively to secure funding for the Archives and more than 80 other projects for Maine included in the spending bill.
"I am extraordinarily pleased that our effort to secure support for a building to house the Acadian Archives at the University of Maine Fort Kent and for archival purposes were included in the Fiscal Year 2003 spending bill passed last week. I have been working to augment funding for the Archives acadiennes throughout my time in the Senate, and this year's support will at long last provide the permanent building we have sought to house the archives," said Snowe. "These unique archives capture the cultural history of the region, and celebrate the Acadian pride of the St. John Valley."
Efforts by Maine's two U.S. Senators to secure federal funding to assist with construction of the $1.4 million, 7,584 square foot state-of-the-art Archives facility and for archival purposes are being hailed by UMFK campus officials.
"We are truly fortunate to have such enthusiastic, capable and effective Senators representing us in Washington," said UMFK President Richard Cost. "The people of Maine spoke out strongly in favor of the Acadian Archives when they passed the higher education bond in 2001. Now our leaders in the United States Senate have worked hard to complete the effort. The UMFK campus is honored to host this vital repository of Acadian history and culture, and we express our warmest appreciation to Senators Snowe and Collins and the entire Maine delegation."
A spring groundbreaking is planned for the new two-story Archives building, which will be constructed on the quad between Powell Hall, an existing student residence hall, and Blake Library, the current campus information resource center.
When complete by years end, the new Acadian Archives building will include a conference room, reading room, work room, Archives reference desk, a bank of computers, research materials stacks, and Archives personnel space on the first floor. The second story will consist of a collections area, accessioning room, and administrative offices for university information resources personnel.
The additional space and much improved quarters will be a stark contrast to the current Acadian Archives.
The facility is housed in a cramped 733 square foot space on the second floor of the Blake Library. The current facility is not handicapped accessible, and includes a climate controlled collections storage facility, an audio-visual lab, visitor's area/reading room, an accessioning work area, two small offices, and 78 additional feet of locked reference shelves.